Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thrower's Elbow Prevention

In part 4 of this series, I will cover an injury called throwers elbow. Throwers elbow affects both sides of the elbow. It is a common injury for any sport that requires a throwing motion---baseball pitchers, football quarterbacks, tennis serving or volleyball spiking.

Throwers elbow is distinguished from tennis elbow (usually affects the outside of elbow) and golfers elbow (usually affects the inside of the elbow).

So what causes throwers elbow? Overuse of the elbow is the most common cause of throwers elbow. The throwing motion stretches the structures on the inside of the elbow and compresses structures on the outside of the elbow.

Poor throwing mechanics is also a leading cause of this injury. Damage to the muscles, bones (fractures and spurs), ligaments and tendons around the elbow joint and forearm causes throwers elbow. This damage eventually causes a restriction of the throwing motion, inflammation and pain.

Pain is usually felt on both sides of the elbow joint and may even be felt as far down as the wrist. If the elbow doesn't get treatment and rest, blood flow could be cut off. The nerves that control the muscles in the forearm could also be pinched. Some numbness may be felt.

Prevention of throwers elbow is the best solution. Here are some tips:

1) Warm-up and stretch adequately. This should not have to be said but many don't take this advice seriously. It is important to increase blood flow and oxygen to the areas you will be using (forearm and elbow). Without a proper warm-up and stretching routine, the muscles and tendons will be tight and stiff and more susceptible to injury.

2) Strengthen and condition the muscles of the forearm and wrist. This will put less strain on your elbow.

3) Avoid overuse of your elbow and get adequate rest from sports competition.

In part 5 of this series, we'll look at Piriformis Syndrome.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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